A £700,000 investment into Basildon’s Towngate Theatre will “secure its future” as the town’s “cultural centre”.

The theatre, in St Martin’s Square, has been a popular venue for musicals, concerts, variety acts and pantos since it opened in 1987.

However, the electrical system in the 37-year-old building is “nearing the end of its life”. 

In a bid to ensure the theatre is up to scratch, it will be completely rewired and new energy-efficient LED bulbs will be installed to replace the theatre’s existing lights.

The plans form part of Basildon Council’s draft budget for 2024/25, which will be debated on by senior councillors tomorrow.

Craig Rimmer, councillor responsible for economic stimulus and tourism, is optimistic the work will provide a boost to the town centre.

He said: “It’s part of Basildon’s future. We’re breathing life into the town centre with newer elements such as the cinema, but we also want continuity from what’s already in our arts and cultural centre.

“While neighbouring councils like Thurrock are closing their theatres, we’re investing in ours. The panto is booked out every year, so we’re spending £700,000 to ensure its future.”

A previous multi-million-pound cash injection saw “urgent repairs” to the roof completed last year.

Mr Rimmer says works to modernise the building “complement” other work the council is doing to invest in the town’s “cultural heart”.

He added: “We’ve also got the ten-screen Vue cinema which will reopen this year, with one of the largest screens in the country.

“These are all reasons to come into Basildon. Originally, the town centre was envisioned for retail shopping, but it’s become much more mixed-use in recent years, as shopping habits change. We want more reasons for people to come to Basildon to use our town centre.”

Mr Rimmer insists the electrical works will provide “savings” for the theatre and the council in the long run.

He said: “It’s time to renew it, so we can make it more eco-friendly. That goes towards the council’s efforts to be carbon net zero by 2030.

“They’ll also have more control over the lights for productions. They should be more technologically advanced, to set scenes better and aid performances while being environmentally friendly.”